Definition of grotesque in English:


Line breaks: gro|tesque
Pronunciation: /grə(ʊ)ˈtɛsk



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  • 1A very ugly or comically distorted figure or image: the rods are carved in the form of a series of gargoyle faces and grotesques
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    • The 18th-century singeries go back to Jean Bérain, who first hit on the idea c. 1695 of replacing the classical fauns and statues of Renaissance grotesques by figures of monkeys.
    • The former is seen in the rectilinear and symmetrical designs, including some carvings and moldings that are formed with characteristic regence strapwork, grotesques, and classical motifs from antiquity.
    • The Baroque introduced grotesques along with the heavy ball dangling from the central shaft, anchoring detachable rows of arms that allowed the hanging fixture to mutate vertically.
  • 1.1 [mass noun] A style of decorative painting or sculpture consisting of the interweaving of human and animal forms with flowers and foliage.
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    • His writing - poetry, drama, and opinions - is a curious blend of disciplined classicism and carnival grotesque.
    • The adaptation of this decorative style came to be known as grotesque, based on the word grotto.
  • 2 [mass noun] Printing A family of 19th-century sans serif typefaces.



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  • Their ridiculously tight shorts are grotesquely immodest.
  • Killings were sometimes grotesquely accomplished, with excessive butchery.
  • I now see that this position is not only illogical but is also grotesquely unjust.


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  • Masked, they were dynamic, varied, and hilarious, so that their masks actually seemed to become their faces, despite their grotesqueness; unmasked, they were slow, hesitant, and awkward, as if ashamed of the material.
  • From its opening moments, the film alternates wide-angle panoramas with screen-popping close-ups of the actors, most of whom seem to have been picked for their grotesqueness.
  • Most of the minor characters are cartoonish in their grotesqueness, and they provide an effective foil for the two leads.


mid 16th century (as noun): from French crotesque (the earliest form in English), from Italian grottesca, from opera or pittura grottesca 'work or painting resembling that found in a grotto'; ‘grotto’ here probably denoted the rooms of ancient buildings in Rome which had been revealed by excavations, and which contained murals in the grotesque style.

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Pronunciation: məˈlôrd
used to address an English nobleman